When Houston Nutt suddenly bolted from Arkansas for Ole Miss last
year, those of us who pay close attention to the SEC were like Arte
Johnson on “Laugh In.” OK. that’s an old reference for you kids, but he
played this lost German soldier who would peer through the bushes and
say, “Verrrrry int-ah-resting.”
It was interesting for two reasons – what he was inheriting and what he left behind.
We all knew Ed Orgeron could recruit. We all knew Ole Miss had
talent. The right coach could turn the Rebels into a winner right away.
And Nutt turned out to be that guy.
The early win over Florida showed that. OK, so the Gators were
flat that day and helped the Rebels out with a pair of third-quarter
fumbles. But you could also see that day that Ole Miss wasn’t bad at
all and they took advantage of Florida mistakes.
On the other hand, Nutt didn’t leave a lot behind for Bobby
Petrino, especially considering the kind of offense Petrino wants to
run. It’s easier to take the offensive philosophy of Nutt and apply it
to a group of solid athletes than it is to take the complicated Petrino
offense and apply it to a group of average athletes.
At any rate, I think it’s time the national media gets off
Florida’s back for losing to Ole Miss by a point. If the Rebels win the
Egg Bowl they will be 8-4, likely ranked and heading to the Cotton
Bowl. Is a loss (albeit at home) to an 8-4 Cotton Bowl team by a point
that much worse than the losses of the other one-loss teams?
The bottom line to “What Nutt Wrought” is that you can’t judge
either coach by the way they perform in Year One. It’s going to take
Petrino longer. A 4-8 record – which is likely – isn’t what he had in
mind, but we all knew he didn’t have the players to compete this year.
The question will be whether he can bring them in eventually.
* A year ago he was celebrated as a champion. Then something went horribly wrong for Les Miles.
I wrote something nice about him.
Since I wrote a Saturday column about what a good coach Miles is,
he has gone 2-4 with the wins coming against Tulane and Troy, and in
the latter the Tigers trailed 31-3.
Sorry to The Hat.
It just goes back to the one truism of college football. You can’t
win without good quarterback play. Look at the four teams under .500 in
the SEC – Auburn, Mississippi State, Arkansas and Tennessee. Stinky
* OK, it’s up to Auburn. If the SEC is going to get to nine bowl
teams. Auburn has to beat Alabama. Of course, Florida fans are saying a
collective, “Hush your mouth.” They want the Gators to be able to knock
off No. 1 and play for the national title.
Right now, the SEC bowls look like this:
BCS – Winner of Alabama-Florida
Sugar – Loser
Outback – Georgia
Capital One – South Carolina
Cotton – Ole Miss
Chick-fil-A – LSU
Liberty – Vanderbilt
Music City – Kentucky
That leaves the Independence Bowl and PapaJohns Bowl, which will probably be looking elsewhere.